A Systematic Review of Youth and Teen Mental Health First Aid: Improving Adolescent Mental Health



      Adolescent mental illness often goes undetected. Youth and teen Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) are variations of adult MHFA that aims to help adults and adolescents recognize the signs and provide help where appropriate. We conducted a systematic review to summarize the current evidence for youth and teen MHFA, providing direction for future training and research.


      A systematic search was performed on September 12, 2020 on PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, ERIC, and Cochrane using keywords related to teen or youth MHFA, adolescents, and mental health. A narrative synthesis was then carried out.


      Of the 695 articles identified, 14 studies were included. All studies were from the U.S. and Australia. All studies demonstrated significant improvements in knowledge, recognition, stigmatizing attitudes, confidence, helping intentions, and helping behavior in both adult and youth participants. Improvement in knowledge and confidence was most reported, and improvement in helping behavior was the least reported. There is encouraging evidence of long-term benefits after the training.


      More studies need to be conducted in non-Western countries, high-risk populations, and different professional settings. Future interventions could also consider different modes of learning, longer-term follow-up, and the measurement of outcomes that evaluate the quality of helping behavior.


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